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What Happens to a Dream Deferred? Baseball and Life, According to Kevin Costner

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In one eleven-year period, from 1988 to 1999, Kevin Costner played the lead Baseball Guy in three unrelated Baseball Movies. During that time, Costner would also jump around, testing other bona fide movie-star vehicles. He was Robin Hood and Wyatt Earp, he prosecuted the conspiracy to murder the president in JFK, he starred alongside Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, played a mutant drifter in Waterworld (then the most expensive movie ever made). At both ends of this blockbusting stretch sit the actor’s Baseball Movies – the inoffensive, optimistic, earnestly American roles that helped shape the identity of Kevin Costner: Movie Star.

1988’s Bull Durham follows Costner’s Crash Davis, a minor league journeyman catcher in the twilight of his career. A year later, Costner reappeared as Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer urged by bodiless voices to build a home field for dead ballplayers in Field of Dreams. The actor then stepped away from Baseball for a decade before taking the field one last time in For Love of the Game, starring as Billy Chapel, an aged superstar who relives memories of a failed romance while he pitching in the last game of his career.


Each of these Baseball Guy iterations endures a certain degree of pain. Davis is finishing a career defined by shortcoming, haunted by his failures at the games’ highest level. He carries a pit of regret, occasionally lashing out but mostly sauntering through life unwilling to leave a sport that doesn’t want him anymore, and maybe never did. Baseball is Crash Davis’ occupation, a calling even if his talent never rose to the level of his passion for the game.

In Field of Dreams, Costner’s Ray Kinsella is a middle-aged man who, despite enjoying a full personal and professional life, fixates on the lacking relationship he had with his father. That man, John Kinsella, was a distant figure, dissatisfied and settled long before Ray’s arrival in the world. John had a stint in baseball that became nothing, and then spent the rest of his life lugging stuff for a paycheck. Ray, now many years removed from his father’s death, is only tangentially related to baseball; he has retained a fan’s interest in the game, seemingly as a stand-in for the substantive paternal relationship he missed (and still misses).

Billy Chapel, unlike his understated counterparts, is a superstar. For Love of the Game joins his professional story in its final throes, but Chapel had been to the pinnacle of the sport and back before that time. His nice cars, prima donna attitude, and frosted tips are a fit for Costner, who established himself as a genuine box office draw long before For Love of the Game debuted. Chapel’s pain is tangible – broken and neglected relationships, throbbing shoulders, damaged nerves. He is a man who has achieved everything, and is tallying the true cost of that success in terms of physical discomfort and romantic disrepair.

In a vacuum, Davis, Kinsella, and Chapel are mostly the same man. They are characterized by Costner’s physicality, the unique mixture of weathered handsomeness and lithe athleticism that allowed him to believably portray professional athletes even into his forties, but the similarities continue past throwing motion, hitting mechanics, and jock swagger. The women in these movies, for instance, exist only to relate to Costner’s characters, and they adore him.

Bull Durham pairs Costner with Susan Sarandon as Annie, a cougar’s cougar before the term existed. Annie is baseball-obsessed, and supplants her expertise with sexuality; she critiques the player’s mechanics, watches every game, and each season she takes one lucky Bull as her lover. In the spirit of that tradition, Annie chooses the team’s star pitcher in the film’s beginning, but is so enamored with Crash that she becomes uncharacteristically conflicted.

The film introduces Annie as a strong and independent – if eccentric and a little pitiable – force, an intellectual and sexual dynamo who amuses herself by making men out of minor league boys. In one scene she lectures her protégé on agency, forcing her to repeat a mantra – “I didn’t get lured, and I will take responsibility for my actions.” Still, Crash Davis – one ballplayer out of hundreds who have ostensibly come through Durham during Annie’s time there – is so singular, so commanding and undeniable that Annie’s romantic identity frays. By the film’s end, Annie is completely smitten.

While Bull Durham is R-rated, adult and sexual, Field of Dreams is far more saccharine and sentimental, so Annie is replaced by Annie (seriously), and Karin, Ray’s wife and daughter, respectively. Annie and Karin apparently worship Ray, supporting the man even when his foolhardy obsessions endanger the farm and nearly bankrupt the family. Ray hears a voice early in the film, famously urging him to build a field; Annie is easily convinced, and Ray proceeds to level a substantial amount of their crop. This pattern continues when Ray is called to Boston by forces beyond his understanding, diverted to Minnesota in similar circumstances, and returns home to stubbornly resist even the most sensible salvaging of the family’s financial security. This is a man’s movie about a man and his father and the man’s game they both loved; Annie and Karin exist merely to look at Ray with bewildered smiles, awestruck adoration, or something in between.

Interestingly, For Love of the Game respects its female character the least, even though the film explores romance as much as it does sport. Jane meets Billy by chance, who stops to help her with car trouble because she is alone and attractive. He easily impresses her, and the two start a periodic fling, with Billy meeting her whenever his team is in New York to play the Yankees. It’s a relationship that starts under dubious circumstances, and mostly continues as such despite the sticky-sweet montage in the film’s middle that gives the audience Chapel briefly appearing to actually commit himself to Jane. Chapel is a superstar, with only enough love for the game, and he viciously and thoughtlessly lets Jane know as much on more than one occasion in the film.

At the end of For Love of the Game Billy has reached his mountaintop, yet realizes that he is still unfulfilled. So, he runs to the airport, where Jane – resolved to leave Billy and the toxic relationship for good – is waiting to board a plane to London. He recounts to Jane his grand epiphany – that he needs her – and she can’t help but be convinced to stay, to work things out, because as the audience knows, she has never been anything less than obsessed with Billy since he first stopped to hit on in front of her broken car. The moment is hollow, largely because the revelation is, too. Billy’s change of heart comes only after he has faced his professional mortality, only when it became not just convenient, but necessary to occupy himself with something other than baseball. It’s natural to almost root for Jane to leave – Billy wouldn’t allow Jane to have him at his best, so why should she be persuaded to settle for anything less? That can’t happen, however, because Billy Chapel – like Crash Davis, and Ray Kinsella – is irresistible.

The Cult of Costner: Baseball Guy isn’t limited to women in these films, as all three of these characters are natural leaders of men. Crash Davis’ role in baseball is to literally mold young men; he is acquired by the Durham Bulls with the sole purpose of looking after and helping shape Nuke, the wild and wildly talented pitcher with a “million-dollar arm and five cent head.” Davis goes even further, naturally becoming the de facto leader of the entire team, providing guidance even to the Bull’s overwhelmed manager.

Ray is chosen by supernatural forces to build a home for the searching, wandering heroes of baseball’s past. His quest is biblical, and his assumed authority postures him as the ruler of his own mythical baseball kingdom. Shoeless Joe and the other players may be destined for immortality, everlasting life in the collective memory of America, but they can’t play unless Ray turns the lights on, unless Ray refuses to sell his farm. And they want desperately to play.

In For Love of the Game, Chapel’s reputation around the league is godly – players and coaches speak his name with reverence, preaching about his old-school, no-bullshit work ethic and his considerable achievements on the mound. Like Davis, Chapel’s team follows his lead, a right he earned with years in the game and statistics compiled. Chapel’s catcher adores him like young boy adores his older brother, and his owner dotes on him like a fawning father.

Both of these groups – men and the women – are influenced by the masculinity of Costner’s characters. These films are about baseball and life, but each of them is about the life of a man – a kind man that doesn’t really exist anymore. Kinsella is a platonic ideal of manhood: he can swing a hammer, he provides for his family, he’s honor-bound, his looks are accessible, rugged, weathered. He even has cliché daddy issues, issues he addresses not with any emotional intelligence, but instead with drastic, errant behavior.

Crash Davis’s swaggering confidence belongs to the world of athletics, it’s the disposition of a man who knows he is the smartest in the room, but is too old and wise to truly give a shit. It’s earned with experience, with home runs hit, women bedded, miles traveled, whiskeys drunk and hangovers fought. The boys on his team follow him because he is the lone man among them, and Annie melts before him for the same reason. Like Kinsella, Davis is tortured by the past, but his festering wound seeps through only in flashes of drunken anger and woe-is-me pity. In the morning after his outburst in Bull Durham, sunglasses are donned, voices are lowered, and the entire episode is dismissed, nothing more than “howling at the moon.” Costner’s Baseball Guys repackage their emotional damage and pour it into the game, where it ostensibly belongs.

That is, until Chapel realizes that the game can’t be everything, that it can’t possibly love you back. Chapel wrestles with his emotions more openly than the other characters, but mostly as a matter of necessity. In order to win Jane back, his teary confession is necessary, because unlike his counterparts, Chapel treats his romantic interest with something between insensitivity and disdain for much of the movie. This fits though – Crash Davis and Ray Kinsella are wholesome throwbacks, but Chapel is a modern man, and a more successful one at that. His virility is stylish, contemporary, and rich. He drives nice cars, wears weird pants, sleeps with masseuses, and is unafraid to direct his anger at the women – and men – who inconvenience him, or who he misunderstands, or who try to set him straight.

All three of these characters are man-children in the way that all professional athletes and sports-obsessed fans must be. Crash Davis is an athletic Peter Pan, unable to leave the children’s game that no longer welcomes him. Kinsella is approaching middle age, but remains impossibly fixated on his childhood. Chapel is bratty and entitled, a silver-spooner with prodigious talent and a penchant for petulance. They are all man-children by definition, but their respective films admire their passion, revere the sport, and focus on the magnetism of their masculinity and the righteousness of their cause instead of the toxicity of their arrested development.

For their overwhelming similarity, Crash, Ray, and Billy relate to baseball in unique and different ways. For Ray, the game is a literal bridge to the past – a metaphor that has defined it in the larger culture for much of its existence – and the connective tissue of his relationship with his father. Crash and Billy have baseball, but they lack the building blocks of Ray’s life. Ray has the family, but turns to baseball for what he lacks: a purpose, a sense of direction, but most importantly, a window into the psyche of the man whose absence informed much of Ray’s emotional development.

For Crash, baseball is the only job worth doing. Never good enough to make it all the way, but never bad enough to wash out, Crash is now on the wrong side of thirty, forced to confront his impending exit from the sport. His relationship with baseball is mostly one-way – he’s given years of his life and received little more than memories in return. He has certainly been denied either the rewarding personal life of Kinsella or the fruitful financial rewards of Chapel. Baseball for Crash is part unrequited love and part paycheck – he uses the game, and the game has likewise used him, and there appears to be nothing left. Maybe a managing opportunity for a minor league club in some podunk town, which leaves Crash wondering aloud the familiar refrain: “Do you think I could make it to the show?”

While Kinsella is a fan and Crash is a player, Chapel is a superstar. His success in baseball was preordained, as much a matter of pedigree as talent. Billy reached the pinnacle, and as the others are left to wonder, to lament unfulfilled potential and retain some purpose in their striving, Billy is the only one who has seen the truth: that baseball can’t be everything, that no matter how talented you are and how long the game allows you to stick around. In the end, everyone is ultimately faced with the same uncertainty. Crash has the luxury of looking at the moon and wishing he could go there, and Chapel is cursed with having gone and knowing it’s not enough.

The circumstances of each of these characters reflect what each film is saying about baseball. Of course, having something to say about baseball is a hallmark of the Baseball Movie genre – these are movies about characters, but really they are about a game – but, as they would have the audience believe, they also have something to say about each of us.

Field of Dreams is the standard-bearer for this kind of allegory. The movie grants baseball the literal voice of god, transforming all of the romance and reverence reserved for the sport into an actual supernatural force. For Field of Dreams, the transformative power of baseball is derived through passive engagement, through curation and fanhood, through the long slow process of living. Baseball is a marker in the history of our country, and the history of each individual American. It crystallizes our relationships, preserving them in its mythology; it is sentient sentimentality, giving even our most indulgent nostalgia a sense of immediacy, simply by always existing.

Still, these films are truly about what baseball takes from the characters, and what it does – or doesn’t – give back. Kinsella’s story is meant to be inspirational and sentimental, but the story only exists because baseball took a childhood from Kinsella – his dad, resentful after washing out of the minor leagues and unfulfilled in his own life, allowed the game’s heroes to raise his son in his stead, while he sleepwalked through life, all his enthusiasm reserved for the Yankees.

From Crash Davis baseball stole potential, a commodity that can only ever be prospectively appraised. Davis is definitively a minor-league talent at the end of his career; the game took the future from Davis, and shifted the weight of his life to the past. What’s left of Davis at the end of Bull Durham is a man determined to salvage some future by fitting a coach-sized block into a player-sized hole. He traded years of his life, and in return received a mixed bag of memories, a sense of regret, some lingering resentment, and relative solitude. Bull Durham expects the audience to miss this lopsided transaction because, when all is said and done, Crash gets the girl. But despite the relationship in the movie between libido and bat speed, Bull Durham – like each of these films – ultimately asserts that baseball and romantic love meet distinct needs, and that one cannot substitute for the other.

For both Crash and Billy, baseball incurs a cost. Crash tolerates discomfort, indignity, and instability because it allows him to stay in the game. Chapel sacrifices his personal life to stay at the top of it. If Chapel existed in Bull Durham, Crash would encourage Nuke to follow his model – staid, focused, cut-throat and committed, because Crash and Chapel have the same understanding: true potential is a rare and finite commodity, and those blessed with it are bound by duty to realize it at any cost. The cost – self-inflected as it may be – endured by Chapel in For Love of the Game is hardly trivial. Baseball gives Chapel everything, but his singular devotion to the game prevents Chapel from recognizing a relationship with Jane as worth pursuing. His airport plea is typically self-centered and tone deaf, but it’s at least honest. Chapel for so long seemed to imagine he could truly love the game, but only at the end of his career does he realize the game couldn’t possibly return that love.

“What Happens to a Dream Deferred” is the opening line of Langston Hughes’ “Harlem,” an elegiac exploration of lost futures and stolen potential. “Harlem” grapples with substantially graver subject matter than the man-children of Kevin Costner’s baseball oeuvre, though, as Hughes broadly examines waylaid generations, psyche on a scale both societal and individual, and dreams deferred with a distinct lack of agency on behalf of the dreamer.

Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For Love of the Game also have a spacious view, but it’s one of baseball as a sort of national compulsion, a cosmic calling for American males of a specific demographic. Still, these films seem incidentally fascinated by the fate of a deferred dream, be it Ray Kinsella’s stunted childhood, Crash Davis’ unfulfilled potential, or Billy Chapel’s romantic dysfunction.

Hughes wonders, do dreams deferred shrivel like raisins, do they fester like sores, or stink like rotting meat, or sag, or do they explode? Kinsella’s dream festers, until he acts drastically to address his loss; Davis’ slowly shrivels, as his prospects dry and die on the vine; Chapel’s stinks, rotting slowly until he begins to smell it. These films, unlike Hughes’ poem, refuse to frame those decaying dreams as anything but the necessary, unavoidable casualties of righteous pursuit, because each of these films believe, more than anything, that baseball is worth whatever cost it may incur. Costner’s characters don’t worry about what happens to a dream deferred, because their most vivid dreams have already been brought to life: to play the game; to never grow up; to be a Baseball Guy.

Mike hails from the great state of Massachusetts, where he structured his identity around three inarguable truths - that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, Pearl Jam is the best band since 1980, and those who disagree are dead wrong. He complains about the proliferation of superhero movies while gleefully forking over sixteen dollars for each new release, and believes Tom Cruise has yet to make a bad movie. Follow Mike on twitter @haigismichael.

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‘Uncut Gems’ Sends Adam Sandler Through the Ringer

The Safdie Brothers have crafted a hectic, abrasive crime thriller that revels in its misery.

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Uncut Gems

The Safdie Brothers have followed up their grimy, abrasive Good Time with a film that never quite reaches those levels of tension, but is nevertheless cut from the same cloth. With Uncut Gems, the directing duo has crafted something so loud and chaotic — led by a perfectly-cast Adam Sandler — that there is no denying it’s a fun ride, even when it is not so fun to watch. Digging through the grit of loan sharks and a dog-eat-dog world, Uncut Gems is another bonafide hit by the Safdie brothers, but one that works when it piles on the misery — which it often does, rather than find a shred of happiness.

Evading debt collectors throughout New York City, Howard (Sandler) runs a jewelry shop in the Diamond District where he sells to many high-profile celebrities. When a new opal arrives at his shop from Ethiopia, he can’t help but show it off to Boston Celtics player Kevin Garnett (who stars as himself in a fun role that never feels out-of-place), who becomes obsessed with the rock and borrows it with the hope of eventually convincing Howard to let him buy it. Of course, Howard has other plans, as the rock is allegedly worth a million dollars if sold at an auction in which he has already purchased a spot. When Garnett doesn’t return the stone, everything starts going horribly awry in Howard’s life as he juggles a failing marriage, his Jewish family ties, and keeping the loan sharks at bay.

Right out of the gate, Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) hits the ground hard with a score that carries the cosmic and reverberating effects of the titular uncut gems. When Garnett stares into the opal, he sees exactly what Howard tells him he’s supposed to see: the universe. In that, Lopatin provides a sonic scape so expansive and yet violently singular in its aesthetic that it provides much of Uncut Gems with a mystical aura. Drenched in gritty camerawork that gets up close to show the blemishes of everyone, there’s no denying the film’s mean and potent intensity.

Where Uncut Gems often stumbles is in its narrative threads. While the Garnett storyline weaves in and out, providing a lot of fun as well as hectic tension, it’s a piece of stunt casting that works, while also highlighting one that very clearly doesn’t involve R&B singer The Weekend. Why he is in the movie is baffling, other than perhaps because he evokes a further sense that Howard is in a very upscale world — something we already know by his clientele, multiple properties, and the wealth he actually wears. The Weekend ends up as a weird diversion that can take viewers out of the experience, even if his presence does lead to a further escalation in problems for Howard.

That all being said, Uncut Gems also brings Adam Sandler back into the fold as an actor who can do more than the drivel he has churned out over the decades. More evocative of his performance in Punch-Drunk Love than The Meyerowitz Stories, Sandler gives a comedic and sympathetic performance to a character for whom everything suddenly goes wrong. Living a manic, fast-paced lifestyle, Howard is impatient, aggressive, and greedy, but Sandler makes it possible to get on board with his plight at least partially (there is no way to be on his side completely). His vices are many, but the performance keeps him down to Earth even when it feels like everything is flying off the hinges.

There will likely be many that can’t get past how dirty this movie feels, as it treats many criminal activities as both simply the way things are and the way they always will be. Beyond that, however, the Safdie Brothers provide a nuanced look at Jewish culture, utilizing one of Hollywood’s most prolific Jewish actors, and treat it is as matter-of-fact. Uncut Gems is a frenetic crime film from a Jewish perspective and delivers on its promise of being a wild ride with a phenomenal Sandler performance. Just don’t expect there to be much hope present, as the Safdies revel in the misery as much as humanly possible, only using hope as a torture device to make the anguish all the more painful.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 14, 2019, as part of our coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival.

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The Best Movie Trailers of 2019

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Best Movie Trailers 2019

They exist to sell a product, but there’s also something about movie trailers that inspires certain ticket buyers to get to the theater early: the promise of movie magic. Before we have a chance to be disappointed by their final products, the best trailers are constructed to show off endless potential — the suggestion that audiences are in for an amazing cinematic treat. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but there’s nothing better than being seduced — and for a few moments, that’s exactly what the best movie trailers of 2019 do. Below are some of my favorites from the past year.

Smarmy Murder

Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s followup to The Last Jedi seems to have found a safer home for the director’s irreverence (I’m not aware of any diehard murder-mystery fans, at least), and it’s trailers have been free to lean heavily into that twisted playfulness. If you’ve gone to a theater in the last three months, it’s been hard to avoid seeing this one a million times (including at times as an ad before the previews), but the relentlessly snappy pacing, ironic edits, and pervasive shots of actors hamming it up really drive home that Knives Out is looking to be a wickedly fun romp. Whether it succeeds or not, there’s no question that the trailer makes me want it to. 

Ready or Not

This one hits more traditional beats when it comes to unspooling its gleefully barbarous premise, and knows just how to mix the tension with the violence with the cheeky one-liners. But it’s the use of The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” that really pushes this trailer over the top, as the song works brilliantly for both magnifying the drama during the screaming moments, and providing an excellent contrast between its blatant romantic sincerity and the sarcastic amorality of this bizarre predicament. Also, Henry Czerny.

The Hunt

This one’s a bit more subtle about its dark comedy, but there’s no question that there are plenty of smirks lurking just below the surface of this premise. A cabal of elitists hunting a bunch of backwoods yokels for sport is the kind of satiric setup that has potential for real bite (enough to get the film’s release indefinitely delayed, apparently), and this trailer does a great job of playing that element up, suggesting a more brutal and sardonic version of The Hunger Games. The tired look on Betty Gilpin’s face as she moseys down train tracks or calmly drives over someone’s head showcases a low-key humor that hopefully is reflected in the final product. Fingers crossed that The Hunt eventually sees the dark of theaters.

Moody, Mysterious Spooks

Midsommar

There’s always something refreshing about a horror story that takes place in the daylight, and the trailer for Midsommar appeals perfectly to this sentiment. Plucky strings, tribal drum beats, and plenty of off-kilter camera angles help set the creepy stage for a relationship problem that is about to manifest itself in a physical problem, but one that is smartly only hinted at. The bright, lush environment and comforting tradition initially draws you in (like any good cult would hope), but exactly what’s in store for this young woman and her companions? Flashes of gore and deformity near the end are what linger, even after a sunny visual finale. Very enticing.

The Lighthouse

It’s possible that this trailer could have just consisted of nothing but the weather-worn faces of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe staring back at the audience, punctuated by the droning bellow of the fog horn, and that might have been enough to sell people on this thing. Of course, what follows is a stark, visual feast that also does a masterful job at dropping clues as to the possible supernatural mystery, but layering them in the potential madness. Dark, ominous trappings are slathered on as thick as the sea-faring accents, giving off an old-fashioned horror vibe. Despite a deep dislike for the actual film, I could watch this trailer forever, and dream of what else could have lurked out on that lonely island.

If Only They Lost the Song

1917

Bolstered by gorgeous images courtesy of the great Roger Deakins (whose sumptuous cinematography can only help no matter what it’s in), this trailer does a masterful job at communicating to audiences just what a nail-biter this WWI story promises to be. Starting out with an innocuous shot of two soldiers lazing beneath a tree, and ending with one of them dodging explosions, the tension is meticulously built step by step, gunshot by gunshot…until a sappy, tone-deaf song called “Wayfaring Stranger” cuts in halfway through and tries to ruin everything with hammy emotional telegraphing. It’s a curious choice, as the textured, frank visuals and dialogue don’t otherwise give off a manipulative vibe. Still, there is stirring power in that imagery, enough to make me want to see more. Just…save the song for the end credits, please.

What. The. Hell.

Bird Talk

It’s generally not desirable to feel even slightly repulsed after viewing a movie trailer, but I have to confess that the bizarre images here are cut together in a way that doesn’t quite agree with me. So why is it good? Because that seems to be exactly the sort of note Xawery Zulawski’s film is trying to hit, with its disorienting fish-eye lenswork and indecipherable depictions of what seems like general depravity, even if I can’t point to exactly why. Even the special effect for that weird flaming car looks wonky and nightmarish. Not every film has to be pleasant to work, and neither does a trailer; Bird Talk looks intense and intriguing and indecipherable, and that’s good enough for me.

Pleading For Attention (and Actually Getting It)

Joker

Every year there are trailers for movies that desperately want to be taken seriously as films, and I’m not sure there was a better example of that in 2019 than Joker. With its gritty, scum-on-the-lens look, an early burst of cruelty, and use of Jimmy Durante’s “Smile” to lay the irony on thick, there’s no question of this promo distancing the final product from traditional ‘comic book’ movies. There’s also no question that the trailer does a magnificent job at showcasing the film’s best element: a writhing, tortured, smirking, dancing, on-the-edge Joaqin Phoenix. While it’s debatable whether Joker itself ultimately deserved all the attention, putting Phoenix’s performance front and center in the trailer was the best way to get it.

The Cream of the Trailer Crop

Richard Jewell

This is a fantastic example of how to communicate an overall old-fashioned approach to sharp storytelling, yet break up the standard formula with well-timed asides. The premise and protagonist are firmly established through standard trailer character development, but it’s the interspersing of those chilling interrogation scenes that really drive the point home and solidify the character as supremely sympathetic. The soft piano notes are joined by a growing orchestra, the frequency of these inserts picks up as the blatant railroading intensifies, and by the time the crescendo hits, the trailer has told a story that we want to see a resolution to — and that subtle nod suggests it’s going to be a very, very satisfying one.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Almost a mini-movie in itself, the trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood spans the range of emotional beats found in the film it’s cut from, roughly (and impressively) in the same order, all while cementing the unmistakable tone of the film’s creator. What’s being sold here is exactly what audiences are going to get, and that’s a sprawling Hollywood epic filled with sharp dialogue, offbeat B-movie/TV show asides, and a undercurrent of a looming, horrific incident that will come to a head in the last reel. An aging cowboy, a loyal sidekick, a radiant princess, and a creepily smiling ogre are set in a neon fantasy land full of make believe, where dreams (and sometimes nightmares) come true. It’s a primer for a magical fairy tale, and also the most complete, all-encompassing, masterful trailer of the year.

***

Of course, these are just my picks for the best trailers of 2019 — what are yours?

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70 Best Movie Posters of 2019

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Best Movie Posters of 2019

Deciding the best movie posters is no easy task…

I remember when I was younger, I used to head to the video store and rent movies I’d never heard of based solely on the movie poster art. This was, of course, a different time— sure, the internet was a thing, but we didn’t have countless websites, not to mention social media platforms, promoting new movies online with news stories, movie stills, featurettes, teasers, trailers and so on. Not to say that sort of marketing didn’t exist in the past, because it did, but it wasn’t always in your face. For better or for worse, the internet changed the way studios market movies, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the use of a poster to help build excitement and anticipation for an upcoming film. Most posters continue to be an important marketing tool for filmmakers worldwide and so once again, we’ve decided to collect images of our favourite movie posters revealed over the past twelve months. If you checked out our list of the best movie posters of 2018, you’ll remember it included posters for indie gems, thrillers, horror movies, foreign language films, Hollywood blockbusters and everything in between. This year is no different, although it should be said that some marketing campaigns were so good, we’ve decided to include more than one poster for a few select films. Also worth noting, we didn’t include any fan-made poster art below. That out of the way, here are the best movie posters of 2019.

Click on any one of the images to enlarge the posters.

The Best Movie Posters of 2019

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